Living in Germany: the good, the bad, and the praktisch (2022)

It’s hard to hate living in Germany when its full of beer, hearty food, and being active but a few more sunny days and better banking wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve officially been living in Germany for more than a year now.

That’s right – the first anniversary of living in Düsseldorf quietly slipped by over the weekend, meaning I’ve called this beautiful country home for a whole year. One year living in Germany.

Of course, the odd thing about being an expat is that, while I absolutely love about my expat life in Germany and currently have no urge to return to the UK, I do spend a lot of my time complaining about trivial things and pining for British comforts. So much so, I have summed up the relative joys and disappointments of my expat life in Dusseldorf and Germany into the good, the bad – and the praktisch.

The good about living in Germany

In reality, the vast majority of expat life in Germany falls into the good category – but here are some specifics about some of the best things of German andDusseldorf life.

German food

Hands down, the best thing about living in Germany is the food. German food is good. Admittedly, if you don’t like the combination of meat and carbs you might struggle a bit, but once you embrace it: nom, nom, nom.

Don’t believe me? Try Currywurst. Eat Schnitzl. Then eat Jägerschnitzl (Schnitzl with a creamy mushroom sauce). Order a side salad (they are huge). Go to any German bakery. Head to any of these burger restaurants. Sample literally one hundred different types of sausage. Scoff down the best kebab of your life. You will love it.

The active German lifestyle

One of my favourite things about Dusseldorf – and Germany in general – is how active everyone is. If you go to the park on a sunny day, instead of masses of sunbathers everyone is doing something instead: running, jogging, cycling, football, Frisbee – you name it. And running isn’t just for the superfit, everyone runs here.

I often feel in the UK people classify themselves either as sporty or non-sporty, and if you’re non-sporty any activity is a no-no. I’m not trying to make Germany sound like a utopia, but here sport really is a non-negotiable part of life. My gym membership, for instance, is EUR 14.99/month (FitX), which is the norm. Sport in Germany isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.

Cost of living in Düsseldorf

Living costshere in Düsseldorf are low, really low. Admittedly, this might be something to do with the fact taxes are really high, but let’s look on the bright side. And living inDüsseldorf on the average wage is generally pretty easy.

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Firstly: food and drink. Eating out in Düsseldorf is very reasonable. Generally speaking, the main meal will cost €10–12. A glass of white wine is normally around €4, but you can pick up a decent bottle in any supermarket for the same. That’s right – a bottle of wine for under €5.

But the real winner is rent. I spend just 20% of my wages on rent. Not too shabby, eh?

Green spaces

I’ve said it plenty of times but when spring has sprung I am reminded of it all over again: Düsseldorf is such a beautiful, green city. You’re never far from a park here.

International expat life

Another huge perk of living in Düsseldorf is its proximity to other capital cities and countries: Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam are all an easy train ride away. In fact, you could drive to the Netherlands in less than 30 minutes. The city’s location coupled with the number of multinational companies based here (L’Oreal, Henkel, trivago to name a few) create a pretty great international atmosphere.

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The downside of expat life in Germany

Now, despite all those lovely, important things, life as a British expat in Germany can still be pretty difficult. And while I don’t wish to offend anyone, I feel obliged to show both sides of the story, so here we are to the downsides of living in Germany.

Banking

When living in Germany, it’s useful to remind yourself that there are futuristic countries out there where you can make purchases using contactless payment. Germany, meanwhile, is still partying like it’s 1979: it is almost impossible to pay with card anywhere and in the few places you can, most retailers will insist you sign instead of using this new-fangled ‘chip and pin.’

It gets worse: if you have an account with Deutsche Bank, you can only get money out from a Deutsche Bank cash machine (and a small list of others), otherwise, you’ll be charged at least €4.75.

And what about online payments, I hear you ask? German standard bank cards don’t have a three-letter security code on the back, so a lot of online retailers are out of the question. Instead, most German companies will ask for payment by online bank transfer; that’s right: direct debit.

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I’ve even heard that paying by cheque is still a common practice. Ridiculous.

Airports in Germany

German airports are a real pet-peeve of mine. Us Brits have airports down to a fine art – Manchester Airport is like a beautiful, well-oiled machine. Here, all the good stuff is on the wrong side of security, where you’ll spot at least five people to each conveyor belt just standing around doing absolutely nothing. Amateurs.

English Breakfast Tea

Admittedly, not being able to get a decent cup of tea is a harrowing problem faced by British expats around the world. However, the problem in Germany is a bit different: Germans think they know tea. And more importantly, they think they know what English Breakfast Tea is.

In Germany, tea is abundant. Everyone loves tea. But to Germans, tea should be herbal, green, mint, peppermint, or fruity.

Anything that isn’t, they like to assume is English tea, which means you’ll order yourself a lovely English Breakfast Tea – as advertised – and end up with a pot of Earl Grey that you can’t even bring yourself to look at. The agony.

Shopping in Germany

The German people are being terrorized by H&M. Send shopping help.

Food in Germany

The food issue is a double-edged sword. A short summary of the British foods I miss most would go as follows: Sunday roast dinners, Full English breakfast, proper bacon, Yorkshire puddings, Terry’s chocolate orange, decent Chinese food, decent Indian food, Wagamama’s – and embarrassingly – I actually do miss fish and chips.

The weather in Germany

Let’s be honest, the weather in the UK isn’t great. It’s mild most of the year and yes – it does rain a lot more than other places. But do you know where you could find a similar climate? Dusseldorf.

Now, if you spoke to your average Dusseldorfer about the weather, you might be tricked into thinking the city is actually found in the Caribbean, such is the huge amount of shock they muster when it rains – which is often. They will even go out of their way to chat to you about the ‘English weather’ the city is experiencing, that is to say, the phenomenon of rain. I once failed to make it to 9am before someone felt the need to point out to me that it was raining, as if I was somehow to blame. They’ll even talk about how grey London is, rather than how grey it is outside the office window most days.

So let’s look at some facts (via Wikipedia climate information 1981–2010):

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DÜSSELDORF

LONDON

AVG ANNUAL HIGH TEMP

14.79

15.2

AVG ANNUAL RAINFALL

797.6mm

601.7mm

AVG HOURS SUNSHINE

1,554.9

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1,632.6

Sorry, Mr Düsseldorfer, looks like London is warmer, dryer, and sunnier (which is actually fairly depressing).

Trains in Germany

I have no idea why Brits are convinced German trains are efficient and punctual to a tee. Every single train I’ve been on with Deutsche Bahnhas experienced some small delay – and they’re not cheap, either.

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The praktisch about German life

We’ve had the good about German life and we’ve had the bad – now it’s time for the praktisch, that is to say the little aspects of life here that are just so, well, German.

Just to explain: the German word ‘praktisch’ actually just means ‘practical’ but is used quite often to mean ‘good’ or ‘great’, to the point where someone describing your purchase as praktisch (whether it’s a jacket, a car or a bar of chocolate) feels like some small honor.

Crossing the road

When it comes to inherently German things, this has to be number one. It is a cardinal sin to cross the road in Germany if the traffic light is on red. The road could be entirely devoid of cars or have not seen a motorized vehicle in years but you have to wait for the green man.

If you don’t, people will audibly tut or even reprimand you. And for some reason, doing so in the presence of a child is pure blasphemy – I lived with Germans in Leipzig who wouldn’t even joke about it.

Yet this is also the habit that you are most likely to take home with you, without you even realizing.

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Sacred Sundays

Everything is shut on a Sunday in Germany. Everything. At first, I hated this, but you soon get used to it, and come summer, it’s actually quite refreshing to be forced to do something active.

German rules

This is one stereotype that is 100 percent true: Germans love rules. Just recently, during the city’s Night of the Museums festival, I was about to leave the Filmmuseum and head to another directly in front of the building. The door at the front was serving as the impromptu entrance and the one to the rear as the exit. As there was no-one entering and I could physically see the next museum, I asked the man on the door if I could nip through the entrance door, shaving 500m off my walk. Predictably, he told me no because ‘that’s not how it works’.

It’s always time for a beer

And finally, the big love of all: German beer. Germany has a great beer culture – it’s not all about getting drunk, rather than the genuine love of beer. Alcohol-free beer is a popular drink of choice in Germany and bottled Radler (basically a shandy) is just as common as any full-strength. Whatever the occasion, it’s always time for beer.

FAQs

Why is Germany good for living? ›

Quality of Life. Pros: Germany is a highly developed country that's clean and orderly. Things run on time, there is a respect for the environment, and the country's infrastructure is good. Cities are generally walkable, and you can easily get around using the country's well-organized mass transit network.

Is Germany a good country for living? ›

Germany has one of the best standards of living in the world. Cities like Munich, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf rank in the top 10 cities with the best quality of life in 2019. Germany has a clean environment, low crime rates, lots of leisure time and cultural attractions, and well-developed infrastructure.

What makes Germany a terrible place to live? ›

Emotionless, cold, unreliable, easily butthurt and most importantly: Envious. This accounts for at least 80% of the German population. I try to avoid them as good as I can and rather stick to foreigners.

What are the pros and cons of living in Germany? ›

Cost of living in Germany
  • + PRO: Low cost of living. ...
  • - CON: Extreme tax deductions. ...
  • + PRO: Good work-life balance. ...
  • - CON: Rising through the ranks can be tough. ...
  • + PRO: Locals are disciplined and punctual. ...
  • - CON: Locals aren't particularly friendly. ...
  • - CON: Language barrier. ...
  • Lifestyle in Germany.

How is life in Germany? ›

Life is pretty busy in Germany as in any other place. But in general, there is peace and quiet anywhere you go. Except for the clubs, which will rave with techno music. Other than that, you will find that Germans love their silence, that there is low corruption, and that it won't be that difficult to find a job.

Is Germany good place to work? ›

1. Good work/life balance. On average, Germans work 35 hours per week, 20% less than the UK where full time workers typically complete 44 hours. Every full-time worker is entitled to 20 days holiday plus 9 public holiday days, ensuring that they are fully well rested and enjoy a decent amount of leisure time.

Why Germany is the best country? ›

Germany is known around the globe for excelling at a variety of things. Germans themselves are known as friendly and welcoming people, even if everyone thinks we have a nonexistent sense of humor. The country also boasts two millennia of history that, for good and bad, shaped the world as we know it today.

Is moving to Germany a good idea? ›

All in all, Germany is a country where you can find both the fast city life or the quiet sub-urban experience, all from a position of safety, security and stability. In short, the country's safety, highly developed infrastructure and robust economy allow Germany to offer you a very stable reason to move to the country.

Is Germany good for immigrants? ›

Germany's population is growing due to immigration

Germany is known for being a good place to live and work in and therefore is more attractive for immigrants than ever. Since 1950 there have only been a few years in which more people emigrated from than immigrated to Germany.

Is Germany a good place to study? ›

German universities are famous for delivering high-quality education - a lot of these universities even rank among the best in the world. By choosing to study in Germany, you can be sure to get an education that is well above the global average, which will come in very useful when looking for a job after graduation.

What are the good things about Germany? ›

10 simple reasons why living in Germany is truly awesome
  • Nine different borders. ...
  • Low cost of living. ...
  • Brilliant beer. ...
  • Stunning scenery. ...
  • Luxury train system. ...
  • Enchanting Christmas markets. ...
  • Lots of public holidays. ...
  • Ease of getting a job.
Jun 8, 2017

Why you shouldn't move to Germany? ›

High taxes

Taxes are high in Germany, seriously high. In fact, they are one of the highest in the world. If you aren't married, don't have children, and earn a solid salary, expect to pay half of your salary in taxes every month.

Why Germany is famous? ›

With an interesting and rich history narrated by the old-fashion and colorful architecture, castles, palaces, cathedrals and monuments themselves, its landscapes, mountains and forests, delicious food and beer, Germany remains one of the top destinations in the world for travelers.

Why Germany is best for working? ›

at least four weeks per year of holiday pay protected by law. generous social security benefits including health insurance, long-range nursing care, pensions, and unemployment, which both the employee and employer contribute to.

Why do you want to Germany? ›

Germany is famous for having high-quality and best academic and practice-oriented programs and all of this is low tuition or no-tuition fee at all. Another reason to choose Germany is the enjoyable level of freedom, security, as well as the rich culture, history, and diversity characterizing it.

Are Germans smart? ›

Germans are the most intelligent people in Europe, well ahead of the British (in eighth place) and the French (15th), according to a study by the University of Ulster.

What is the biggest problem in Germany? ›

What are the most important problems facing Germany? (January 2020 to September 2021)
CharacteristicCoronavirusSocial Inequality
May 21, 2166%6%
May 7, 2174%6%
Apr 16, 2184%5%
Mar 26, 2185%3%
9 more rows
Jan 20, 2022

Is Germany friendly to foreigners? ›

Germans are not perceived as friendly towards foreigners

Only 53 percent of expats in Germany said that they consider the local residents friendly, compared to 68 percent globally.

Is it better to live in Germany or Canada? ›

Canada offers a quality system of healthcare, easier permanent residency applications and a great public health system. On the other hand, Germany offers superior education at a low cost, good healthcare, great weather and a low cost of living.

Is it better to live in France or Germany? ›

Germany has an impressive history and a stable economy, while France has wine, croissants, and beautiful scenery. Where would you choose to live? Both countries are popular destinations, France being a magnet for tourists and Germany being most attractive for skilled workers.

Does Germany Need workers? ›

Germany Needs 400,000 Foreign Workers Per Year With New Immigration Policy: FDP - Bloomberg.

What is Germany famous for? ›

With an interesting and rich history narrated by the old-fashion and colorful architecture, castles, palaces, cathedrals and monuments themselves, its landscapes, mountains and forests, delicious food and beer, Germany remains one of the top destinations in the world for travelers.

Why you shouldn't move to Germany? ›

High taxes

Taxes are high in Germany, seriously high. In fact, they are one of the highest in the world. If you aren't married, don't have children, and earn a solid salary, expect to pay half of your salary in taxes every month.

Is Germany friendly to foreigners? ›

Germans are not perceived as friendly towards foreigners

Only 53 percent of expats in Germany said that they consider the local residents friendly, compared to 68 percent globally.

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